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Dangers of sleeping pills

Prescription sleeping aids provide short-term relief, but they may be dangerous in the long run. People in Colorado who take them may want to take not of one woman's story of how she lost her father. The man lost his life while taking the sleep-aid Zolpidem, which caused him to sleep walk and in turn sleep drive. One night, after taking his nightly dose, the elderly man got into his car and drove seven miles, until he crashed into a tree; the car burst then into flames, killing him. Driving, walking and eating while asleep are side effects that some users report when taking sleeping aids. The actions taken under the influence of a sleeping pill are potentially harmful to both the user and to others.

One pulmonologist advises that patients with sleep disorders should be fully evaluated before taking a drug like Zolpidem. The doctor warns that there may be underlying causes for insomnia that could be treatable without sleeping aids. Administering medication incorrectly may potentially lead to more severe side effects for a patient taking the medication.

The woman's father was also taking a pain reliever called hydrocodone at the time of his death. It was not clear whether the decedent's doctor knew about his use of hydrocodone, although a prescription is generally required to obtain the medication. If doctors are unaware of all of the drugs that their patients are taking, there is more of a risk that a patient could be given a drug that has adverse interactions with another medication.

When doctors overprescribe medications or prescribe the wrong dosage for a patient, they may be held liable for medical malpractice. When a drug's side effects are made known to the patient, a patient may not have a claim against a doctor if those side effects occur. A medical malpractice attorney could help patients determine whether a negative experience with prescription drugs was the result of malpractice.

Source: WRAL, "Franklin family spreads warning about sleep aids, side effects", Allen Mask, M.D., September 10, 2013

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